Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Perhaps one of the most beautiful sights of a Northwest autumn is the Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum), the common hardwood of our hills and coastal forests.All through the Oregon Coast Range these maples fill the openings in the coniferous forest that covers most of these hills.

For most of the year, and in most autumns, the tree merely contributes to the thick leaf litter and duff that carpets the forest floor.

Now, in most years the rains arrive in late September or early October and the fall colors are brief and muted. Rain knocks the leaves down quickly, and the wet churns them to the muddy brown that colors most of our autumns.

But when the rains don't arrive, and the Indian summer pushes well into October, as this one's has...then the maples take the opportunity to blazon the hillsides with the gold peculiar to the species.The forests blaze with this golden light, and the dark coniferous hillsides seem to be lit from within, a lumineria spilling down the steep slopes of the Coast Range.

So for your enjoyment, a bit of autumn color from the sunny Northwest.

Enjoy it, for, as the slave holding the laurel crown over your head is whispering; like fame, its time is fleeting and soon the rains will fall.


srv said...

I wish I could come up to Portland just to see this:

BTW, if you haven't read this crazy grandmother yet, I think you'll like her:

Lisa said...

Thank you for sharing these magnificent trees.

They remind us that nature will always exploit a niche, and when allowed, blazon forth with her grandest display. There is no reservation, no shame and no concern that the production might close in a day.

walternatives said...

Those images are what I refer to as "The Parade of Autumn." Since I spent the first half of my life in the Midwest, I have such fond memories of the parade. Now, living where I do, there is no parade. Thanks, then, for the peek.

You Know Where You Are With said...

These are such beautiful sights!

FDChief said...

Lisa: perhaps that's the truly restorative quality of Nature; it is truly unrestrained, lavish, profligate. We plot and scheme and worry while all around us the world simply does what it does - as you say, there is no "tomorrow" for the golden maples. They simply are and will be until the rains fall...

W: I, too, was a midwest and East Coast kid, and I often miss the dry rustle of fallen leaves and the sharp, tannin scent of the oaks every autumn.

YK: You're welcome!

sheerahkahn said...

I remember those colors, and often times a few trees in my neighborhood will produce the panoply of natures wonderous colors that remind me of my childhood travels in the Blue Ridge mts.

I miss those quiet times of my youth.
They come so few now, and when they do come around their stay is so short.
But when it does stay for a bit I feel young again as the cool wind carrying the smell of Fall on it's wings tells me that life has more meaning than what I've attached to it.
And the leaves, so colorful and merry threading their dance amongst my footfalls, chittering their amusement at my sluggishness..."run with us!" they seem to say, "release your cares for someone else to carry."
I think the next time that moment comes by...I will run with the leaves on their merry journey, and let someone else worry about the cares of life.

Right now, though, I feel...tired.

Lisa said...


You wax poetic, as well. I have seen a little of the Blue Ridge Mtns, and they are lovely,too.

sheerakahn said...

I was not intending too, but I'm feeling old right now.
The weather here has turned, and I'm feeling it in my joints.
All those old familiar injuries that I foolishly earned so long ago resurface when the rains come.
I'm aching in several joints right now, especially the knees and elbow.
But its all mind over matter as my football coaches would say.
They didn't mind, and my pain didn't matter.

pluto said...

I find your post to be quite poignant because the leaves are just finishing up changing here and I was stuck inside the WHOLE time trying to make computers do increasingly unlikely things.

I like my job in the depths of winter and the heat of summer, I can even tolerate it when spring finally peaks out from the snowdrifts but fall is too lovely and too short to spend your time in a windowless building.

Lisa said...


I am sorry you are in pain. As yourself say, nature beseeches you to release your cares. Breathe. The beauty is there for you both in your memories and in reality.

I hope you can do something to alleviate your achy joints. Refashioning your sports quote, from the great Satchel Paige, "Age is a case of mind over matter; if you don't mind, it don't matter" [as long as it doesn't hurt too much :)]

Lisa said...


My thoughts outpace my typing ability. It should be, "as you yourself say," but you know that.

FDChief said...

Pluto, sheerah: I'sorry to hear that, for one reason or another, this autumn has been poignant for you. I hope that you both manage to get to enjoy a little of the beauty of the season. And if it's a little sad, too...well, that's why they call the feeling "autumnal"...

Lisa: Paige also talked about how he used to strengthen his arm throwing rocks at the white boys. Said he crippled some of them up pretty good. I always liked ol' Satchel.

Red Sand said...

Beautiful sights. We're at that halfway point where there's not much left on the trees but there's loads left on the lawns and sidewalks, lending a lovely aroma of fall and splendid colour.

Publius said...

In one important respect, I much prefer deciduous trees to evergreens. Not only does one get that beauty of the leaves changing, one finds that after the leaves have fallen, it's much easier to hit a golf ball through the tree. That's important. And if the tree is on the golf course, you don't have to deal with it.

Bottom line is that I prefer those deciduous trees anywhere but on my property. When I was in California, I spent I don't know how many hours over the years raking and getting rid of those damned huge leaves from the Liquid Ambers on my lot. And they always seemed to be wet and heavy; rainfall accelerated the fall. Plus, if you have a pool, they are your sworn enemy. Mostly pines and palms here in South Carolina. I haven't missed bagging leaves in my declining years.

Who said I wasn't a romantic?

FDChief said...

Publius: What's the fun of hitting the thing through the trees if you can SEE through the trees? Slash away and the devil take the hindmost, I say.

But I can't agree more on the fallen leaves. Leaves on the tree? Pretty! Leaves on the ground where I have to rake 'em up?


Publius said...

"Slash away and the devil take the hindmost, I say."

Well, shit, Chief, that's what I do. You don't think I AIM for those trees, do you? It's just that trees have a nasty habit of jumping out and grabbing golf balls. The ball has a tendency to get through the trees and retain power while remaining on a fairly straight-ahead path when those pesky leaves aren't there.

Dumb-ass luck beats skill any day.